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My name is Aubrey Simons (or Ms. Simons to the youths) and I teach English Literature for middle and high school. I am an avid reader, rock climber, hiker, and educator.

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy

Kelly Gallagher says, “I am not simply teaching the reading; I am teaching the reader.” My teaching philosophy centers on the students, not merely curriculum. My primary job is, as I see it, to guide and train and encourage my students to rise to their full potential, following Emily Dickinson’s example: “We never know how high we are/ ‘till we are called to rise.”
This idea translates into several belief statements that I hold:
  • I believe all students are capable of success.

  • I believe it is my job to create an environment that facilitates student success.

  • I believe that students will always face challenges in the learning environment.

  • I believe that students can be taught to overcome their challenges, no matter what.

  • I believe that the classroom is a place for students to be continuously challenged to think deeply, and allow their thinking to impact their actions daily.


CSTP 1.2 Connecting learning to students’ prior knowledge, life experiences, and interests

CSTP 1.4 Using a variety of instructional strategies, resources and technologies to meet students’ diverse learning needs

CSTP 1.5 Promoting critical thinking through inquiry, problem solving, and reflection 

  • Curriculum should reflect not only the educational standards we ascribe to, but it should also be relevant to students’ lives. 


  • Differentiation is an important part of my teaching toolkit, and I find that annotation is a great way to, as Kelly Gallagher puts it, “teach the reader” while differentiating for varying student abilities. I have taught annotation in both middle and high school, and I have found that it increases student engagement during reading, and success on summative assessments such as essays, especially for struggling readers. Some of the annotations are more accessible for struggling readers, such as making a prediction or identifying an unknown word, allowing stronger readers to try for more challenges, such as text-to-text connection or theme.

  • I also teach Costa’s Levels of Questioning, another differentiation strategy that promotes critical thinking and discussion. I recently hosted a mini Socratic seminar where students annotated and created 2nd and 3rd level questions beforehand. I was impressed by their motivation, especially since I hosted the discussion over Zoom.

Real World Connections

When I taught at La Sierra high school, we read Night by Elie Wiesel. I saw in the news that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a comparison between immigrant detention centers and concentration camps. I immediately changed my plan for the end of unit assessment, and asked the question, “In light of Elie Weisel’s Night, was AOC’s comment respectful to Holocaust survivors?”
Differentiation and Diversity
CSTP 2.2 Creating physical or virtual learning environments that promote student learning, reflect diversity, and encourage constructive and productive interactions among students. 
  • Working in both private and public, and in Title I schools, I have gained experience in diverse classroom settings. When designing my lessons, I take students’ cultures, family backgrounds, levels of knowledge/skills, and learning styles into consideration and provide both choice wherever possible.

  • Design lessons to reflect the I Do - We Do - You Do model to scaffold student learning.

  • Provide detailed rubrics and use tech resources like Kami to provide feedback for student work.

  • Employ Kagan strategies to facilitate group work and support struggling readers.

  • Structure lessons to include technology to increase engagement and promote 21st Century skills.

  • Example: I use resources such as Padlet to create a live response to a prompt, in the case of this lesson, making inferences and asking questions about an image.


CSTP 5.1 Applying knowledge of the purposes, characteristics, and uses of different types of assessments

  • Use a variety of summative assessments, including essays, tests, projects, and collaborative presentations to assess knowledge of content.

  • Incorporate various informal assessments into instruction daily, including exit tickets, level of knowledge hand signals, Kahoot, and Pear Deck.

  • Allow students choice on essay prompts, certain quizzes, and project topics.


Clear Expectations

Displaying expectations is an important way to communicate with students and hold them accountable.

Collaboration and Communication
  • Maintain regular communication with English department, collaborating on lesson plans and creating resources, in addition to analyzing assessment data and strategizing reteaching/future units.

  • Maintain close relationship with principal and assistant principal. An open, trusting relationship promotes opportunities for support in the various areas of teaching including curriculum, behavior issues, parental involvement and other concerns within the school.

  • Positive, consistent communication with parents and guardians is essential.

  • Regularly contact parents when problems arise, but also when a student has experienced success in the classroom.

Example: I recently made several positive parent phone calls for students who exhibited leadership in our mini socratic discussion by bringing other students into the conversation and keeping the group on topic.

Content Creation

I designed a workbook for our department when we experimented with book clubs last year.

Classroom Management

CSTP 2.3 Establishing and maintaining learning environments that are physically, intellectually, and emotionally safe.

  • Students should feel safe in the classroom, and that begins with knowing what to expect every day.

  • Expectations are clearly communicated regularly, and displayed in the classroom

Example: I wanted students to put their classroom supplies away neatly, so I posted a picture in the classroom of how I expected them to do it.

  • Routines are an important way to engage students and help them transition during a lesson.

Example: My classes begin with a daily warm-up which students know to expect, and I use timers to transition us between activities. For group work, I have a chime that I use to signal the end of discussion time.

  • Students should experience immediate, but predictable, negative consequences when they do not meet behavior expectations.

Example: I have a chart posted in my room that lists the consequences for not following classroom expectations. It begins with a verbal warning, written reflection, parent phone call, detention, etc.

  • Positive consequences are equally important when students follow expectations.

Example: In the beginning of the year, I reward students with class games when I notice them succeeding in following classroom structures. I also use behavior points that students can use to “buy” things to provide incentive.

Teenage Students Raising Hands
"From day one, Aubrey did not shy from contributing to the team. She showed herself to be organized, efficient, and able to communicate both professionally and personally. She adapted to many circumstances during her time in the classroom, both in-person and over zoom with distance learning. Her flexibility and consistency are greatly appreciated by our team"
Misti Castro | AVID and honors teacher at Valley Oak Middle | Visalia, CA

Photo Album



References available upon request.

Follow me on Instagram! @mizsimonsteach

GOOGLE VOICE# | (949) 627-0369

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